Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Learn Our History Today: March 28

Learn Our History Today: On March 28, 1774, British Parliament enacted the Coercive Acts, following the Boston Tea Party and other destructive measures by American colonists.  The Coercive Acts were four individual Acts aimed at restoring order in Massachusetts and punishing Boston’s colonists for the Tea Party.  The four Acts included:

The Boston Port Act, which shut down the port of Boston until damages from the Tea Party were repaid
The Massachusetts Government Act, restricting town meetings in Massachusetts
The Administration of Justice Act, protecting British officials from any form of criminal prosecution
The Quartering Act, which required colonists to house British troops in on demand

A fifth act, known as the Quebec Act, which gave freedom of worship to Catholics in Canada, was added in colonial parlance as one of the Intolerable Acts—the largely Protestant colonists did not like the ability of Catholics to worship freely on their borders.

You can introduce your children to the Boston Tea Party and the Coercive Acts with Learn Our History’s video, “The Birth of a Revolution,” available at  And when you try this video, we’ll give you our “Columbus and the Great Discovery” video free, along with 6 more free gifts.

Now back to today’s day in history...In 1862, the Union turned away Rebel forces at the Battle of Glorietta Pass, stopping the invasion of New Mexico Territory.  The Confederates had the goal of claiming the territory they deemed rightfully theirs and use the Western mines to fill its treasury.  But at Pigeon’s Range, near Glorietta Pass, the Confederates stumbled upon some 1,300 Yankees under the command of Colonel John Slough and a battle ensued in the late morning.  In the late afternoon, the Confederates were able to force the Union further down the pass, but night fell and halted their advance.  Then, the tides were turned as the Union managed to attack a Confederate supply train burning 90 wagons and crippling the Confederates.

Also on this day in 1969, our 34th President and a respected World War II general, Dwight D. Eisenhower, died at the age of 78.  Widely known as “Ike,” he was a popular president who held two terms in which he oversaw a period of strong economic growth in the United States and navigated the country through the increasing tensions of the Cold War.

Finally, on this day in 1979, the worst accident in the history of nuclear power in the United States occurred when a pressure valve in a reactor at Three Mile Island on Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River failed to close.  Cooling water contaminated with radiation was released into adjoining buildings and the core began to overheat.  Although emergency cooling pumps automatically started, operators misread the confusing data in the control room and shut off the emergency water system.  The reactor was shut down but, due to the fission process, residual heat continued to be released.  As a result, the core heated to over 4,000 degrees.  At 5,000 degrees, the core would experience a meltdown causing radiation to drift across the countryside causing fatal illnesses.  Fortunately, by 8:00pm, operators realized that they needed to circulate water through the core so they restarted the pumps, causing the temperature to drop.  It was an extremely close-call as the reactor was less than an hour away from a complete meltdown. 

Although more than half the core was destroyed, the protective shell was in tact and no radiation was escaping.  But two days later, a highly flammable hydrogen gas bubble was discovered inside the reactor building.  Some of the gas had exploded on the 28th and a small amount of radiation was released into the atmosphere, although the explosion was not registered and the public was not notified.  Once the bubble and leak were discovered on the 30th, residents were instructed to take precautionary measures and pregnant women and pre-school children were instructed to leave the area until further notice, causing a widespread panic and prompting over 100,000 people to flee surrounding towns.

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